Independent on Sunday editor vows to keep title ‘distinct’ amid integration

Newly appointed Independent on Sunday editor Lisa Markwell has pledged to maintain the paper’s independence amid moves to integrate all three Evgeny Lebedev-owned national titles.

Journalists across the group now work for The Independent, i and Independent on Sunday, and Markwell is excited by the prospect of calling on all staff for her weekly.

But she told Press Gazette that the Sunday is a “successful brand” in its own right and she is keen to keep it that way.

“It’s a good quality newspaper and distinct from the daily,” she said. “You can tell they are from the same family but it does have its own identity.

“In these times of austerity I don’t have an open cheque book but what’s fantastic about it is I know all the journalists here and how fantastic they are.”

Markwell praised the work of her predecessor John Mullin and said she is “not about to rip it all up”.

According to ABC figures for March, the title had the lowest circulation of all the Sundays – 113,923, down 8.8 per cent year on year – of which around 60,000 copies are paid-for.

Markwell, who has worked at the Independent titles for 11 years in two stints, believes there is “everything to play for” in the Sunday market, though.

“Sundays are very different,” she said. “The way that people structure their weekends is different and certainly there is an opportunity. We are a small newspaper but we are an edited newspaper – there’s nothing in it that gets thrown straight into the recycling bin by readers.”

Although Markwell is the editor of the paper, she is still working under Chris Blackhurst – who is editorial director of all three Independent titles.

Their backgrounds are very different – Blackhurst worked in news and business journalism after graduating from Cambridge University, while Markwell went straight to Country Life (initially as a secretary) after her A-levels.

Markwell thinks this combination can work well. “I’m a different person to Chris – I have different interests, with my features background – and working on a weekly paper is a good fit for me.”

Markwell may have spent her early days at the likes of Elle, The Mail on Sunday’s You Magazine and Easy Living (where she was launch features editor), but since rejoining the group in 2008 she has worked on the editing rota of The Independent and was also executive editor of the Sunday title.

“My early background is more in features but not as much in the last few years,” she said. “But I don’t think a features background is a bad thing for an editor to have.”

In being appointed editor of the Independent on Sunday, Markwell becomes only the second current female editor of a national newspaper – after Dawn Neesom at the Daily Star. She is also the second woman editor working for a Lebedev title – after Sarah Sands at the London Evening Standard.

Markwell was keen to play down the significance, though. She said: “If anything it is a testament to the company we work for.

“It is nothing to do with the fact that we are women.”

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